The Valley of the Baboons in the Eastern Cape Province (in the sandy soil of this valley one can easily spot their footprints), also known as the Baviaanskloof Wilderness, is a rugged, uncultivated, and beautiful wilderness area that includes the Baviaanskloof and Kouga Mountains, and the valley in-between, less than three hours from Port Elizabeth.
Recognised as a World Heritage Site in 2004, the 180 000 hectare conservation area is South Africa’s third largest, following closely on the heels of the Kruger National Park and the Kalahari. What looks like a relatively simple route through the valley is, however, utterly deceptive.
The Baviaanskloof Wilderness is wild with difficult access and numerous river crossings. There is a dearth of human intervention and an immense feeling of space, despite the gorge. The sometimes narrow track of road that follows dry river beds takes one through some unbelievably breathtaking mountain passes, rock formations, indigenous forest and mountain streams.
It is thus not unusual to see signs saying “Danger, narrow road and sharp curves ahead” and it is probably best to attempt the route in a 4×4 vehicle, but the reward of being able to experience nature as intended, in an area that promises to remain unspoilt because of this difficult passage, makes the journey, that will probably take the better part of a day, all the more worthwhile.
The incredible scenery does not have to be viewed from the confines of your vehicle, however. There is ample opportunity to hike, bird watch, mountain climb and spot flowers. Mountain streams provide warm water pools for swimming and San rock art in the area is well worth viewing..